Importance of the Orchestra in a Musical

Before I start this post, I want to say that this blog has reached 150 followers and my goal is to get 500 by the end of the year.

The orchestra is something I have not actually described on this blog yet. The orchestra in my opinion almost seems like a character in a musical. The orchestra actually opens up a musical, which is why the first emotion that I feel is excitement and joy. The opening of a musical is always an overture of sorts. The orchestra gets you all pumped up and ready to feel all the different emotions. The orchestra is one of the biggest reasons why feeling the positive and negative emotions are worth it.

The orchestra is the main driving force of a musical because when the orchestra starts playing, you get excited about listening to another musical number. The melody in a musical is just as important as the lyrics.

I love hearing the orchestra play while an actor is singing because the singing voice and the orchestra are a wonderful mix. Even the melody of a song can explain a lot about the actual emotion of a song. If a song is slow, it tends to be either a sad or heartbreaking or even a love song. If the orchestra starts out slow and than speeds up, the song tends to be an exciting number.

Describing the importance of the orchestra is quite tricky. But the orchestra is just as important as the story, characters, and the songs. The songs are driven through the orchestra.

Core of Musicals

What is at the very core of musicals? What makes them so enjoyable to watch?

Musicals are a very joyful, unique, and emotional world. They know how to make you find pleasure in all the emotions you feel. There are five main emotions, which are excitement, love, joy, sad and heartbreak. But of all of those joy, love, and excitement are the strongest. I am not saying not that negative emotions are worth less than the positive emotions.

Excitement, joy, and love are not just naturally part of a musical itself. They are also part of the actual experience of seeing the musical. I feel like all musicals literally depend on each other. I know why they depend on each other, but even I cannot explain the reason. But I can explain part of why they depend on each other. Growing up, I was just learning about what makes a musical a “musical”. They were a world of comedy, spectacle and dance, an emotional world of excitement, love, joy, and sad, and a world of emotional connections.

Once Wicked entered my life, I began to realize that there is an emotional side to musicals. At that point, it wasn’t just spectacle and dance that mattered to me in a musical. Musicals began to be more about the emotions. By the end of high school, all musicals were still happy and there was still the same four main emotions of excitement, love, joy, and sad. I remember really loving the exciting songs and that is the emotion I remember the most from those years. I associated musicals with songs like “Dancing Through Life”, “Do-Re-Mi” and any song that were like those. So the musicals I grew up with provided a framework for musicals.

Than 2012 came along and musicals  drastically changed. It was December and the moment I saw that Les Mis movie, I was super confused and didn’t know how to respond to a heartbreaking musical. It wasn’t something I was used to and didn’t actually accept the fact that tragic musicals existed that time around. Sometime in March of 2013, I accepted those tragic musicals. Les Mis was how I discovered a fifth main emotion, which was heartbreak. Les Mis’ emotional impact went above and beyond what I thought musical emotions could do. Through the realization of heartbreak, I started to realize that it was much easier to find the darkness and negative emotions of other musicals. So everything I just said sort of explains why all musicals depend on each other.

All of the musicals I call meaningful help shape musicals the best. Whether that is Sound of Music, Annie, Wicked, Newsies, Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Aladdin, Les Mis  or even Pippin, they  all shape musicals into what they are. Through their spectacle, dance, comic and tragic moments, wonderful storylines and songs and characters, they all help shape a musical. Their emotional worlds vary a lot and even I cannot explain that.

But even today, I still associate musicals with comedies. The very heart of musicals is why I get so much joy, love, and excitement from watching them. They know how to emotionally connect you and know how to allow you to find pleasure feeling both positive and negative emotions. For me, I sort of feel like the songs are at the heart of a musical even though everything else is also at the heart. But without songs that you appreciate and love, there is no way you can actually enjoy watching a musical. Because musical songs are so story-telling oriented, it allows you to truly care about the characters in a musical. Since different characters sing all the different songs in a musical, I associate songs with different characters. So whenever I listen to a musical song, I am no longer feeling my own emotions, but the actual characters. If you are feeling the characters’ emotions while watching a musical, what exactly are your own?

I still feel like the positive emotions are stronger than the negative emotions. They are in every single musical while the negative emotions are not. The simple shows are more likely to not have the negative emotions due to having less conflict than the complex musicals. The positive emotions are not just naturally part of the musical itself, but they also are coming from yourself.

Those negative emotions can be hard to work with, but I know through experience just how beautiful and wonderful those emotions really are. They are hard to work with because they hurt and that varies a lot as well. It has varying levels of fragility, vulnerability, strength, power, and even those emotions have an epic and heart-wrenching quality to them.

What do you think is at the very core of a musical?

Center

Little Shop of Horrors Review

This weekend, I have been busy house managing my college’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. The first two nights during the show, I sat in the lobby just listening to the show. From those two nights, I could tell it was a well-done production due to how incredible the singing voices sounded. But last night, actually watched the entire production and I throughly enjoyed it.

Before watching it, I knew about the characters of Seymour and Audrey. I also heard the songs “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Skid Row”, “Grow for Me”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, and “Suddenly Seymour”. I knew that it dealt with a man eating plant and I also knew that this production used four different puppets when it came to the plant.

Possible Spoilers:

The opening of Little Shop of Horrors drew me in right away. Those three singers who open up the show were incredible. Those three had to sound perfect together and in a lot of ways, those characters were sort of like the narrators of the production. The set was very effective and just wonderful.

The cast in this production was incredible. I especially loved the actors who played Audrey and Seymour. They were a wonderful pairing and especially loved during “Suddenly Seymour”. Audrey and Seymour are actually my favorite characters in Little Shop of Horrors. Seymour and Audrey work at Mr.Mushnik’s  Floral Shop and Seymour has a crush on Audrey. “Suddenly Seymour” is the love duet between the two characters and it also is my favorite song from the show.

Orin was very convincing. This is one of the characters that I don’t like. I just don’t like how he treats Audrey and is quite abusive when it comes to her. I even don’t like how he works as a dentist. But, I still loved the acting and singing coming from him.

I loved what the actual plant looked like even though I didn’t love that plant as a character. Its taste for blood and human flesh is bizarre. The most bizarre on-stage deaths I have seen have come from being eaten by this extremely manipulative and very rude plant. In this production, the plant ate Orin, Mr. Mushnik, Audrey, and Seymour. All of the leads were eaten by this plant. Coming in, I basically knew the plant was going eat all of these characters, but that is part of the “fun” of this musical.  I was the least affected by the deaths of Orin and Mr. Mushink. But it was the deaths of Audrey and Seymour that affected me the most because they were my favorite characters. l literally wanted to cry at the death of Audrey. Seymour saw her being eaten by the plant and pulled her out, but she was mortally wounded thanks to the plant. She got to die in the arms of Seymour and I literally had the urge to tear up at that scene. That plant was so particular about what it ate.

Loved seeing how it grew over time. The plant is the reason why the floral shop has had a lot of success. But the voice of the plant was extremely incredible and quite convincing

So overall Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy. It was throughly enjoyable. The acting and singing was incredible. It was such an enjoyable experience and loved the choreography. The production picked some of the best puppets for the plant. While Little Shop of Horrors is not a favorite musical of mine, I still think it is a good show. This was actually the first time I ever fully experienced this musical.

Disney Musicals

Disney musicals are a very important part of my life. I grew up with some of the most famous Disney musicals ever. I grew up with musicals like “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin”, and “Lion King”. I also grew up with Disney musicals that are not stage musicals. In middle school, I fell in love with Enchanted, which is my favorite Disney movie. There was a time when I actually sort of forgot how much I loved “Lion King”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”, which made me sort of forget some very important plot points of each and some of their emotions.

The only songs I remembered from those three shows are “A Whole New World”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”. I basically forget that some of these had negative emotions found within their songs. Its crazy because by the end of high school, I knew sad was common in musicals, but basically forget which shows that emotion happened to be, but never forgot it was in Wicked.

Even in the college years, I have fallen in love with newer Disney musicals. I did watch the movies of both “Tangled” and “Frozen”. My dorm room has a bit of a Frozen theme in it. It has a Frozen pillow and a stuffed Olaf and Sven. Recently, I fell in love with the stage version of “Newsies” because it has mind-blowing dance, an incredible score, and memorable characters. I feel like I need to eventually revisit some of the Disney musicals sI grew up with and relearn them and watch them fresh and that is why I hope to see “Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast” live again someday.

The Disney musicals are a big reason why most musicals are happy to begin with. If you actually count the non-stage musicals, it makes the happy musicals increase even faster. I may have lost some touch with some of the Disney musicals growing up, but I am so glad I want to revisit them. When I went to Disney World last year with my school for a leadership experience, my love for Disney strengthen. Outside of the leadership classes, we were let loose and allowed to explore the parks without a chaperone. Due to having character meals everyday and experiencing the magic of Disney again, I found more love for Disney. Because of the two leadership classes where we learned more about Disney and went behind the scenes, it made me love Disney more.

Plans of the Lord

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”

-Jeremiah 29:11-13

Sometimes things in life don’t make sense. But God has a plan for each of us. Sometimes it is hard to know what parts of our life are part of His plan and what parts are not. But listen to God. He has a plan for each of us and our calling is why we are on this earth. I discovered my calling in high school and never once realized that my calling was meant to be a job. In high, through a special dinner exercise, I realized the vast majority of the world was living in poverty and I just knew I had to do something. In Fall of 2015, I learned to love Sociology and that as when I realized that God actually wanted me to work in Nonprofit and yes that sounds a bit risky, but if thats where God wants me to be, I will work there.

Than the semester after that, I found another side to my calling. God somehow found a way to blend my two biggest passions into one Nonprofit idea. I plan to open up a theatre where the homeless can be involved. My true passion is helping the homeless and my other passion is musicals. I loved musicals growing up and Wicked sparked my love for musicals and was the show where I started to understand the emotional side of musicals. Than Les Mis becomes an important part of my life and I became obsessed with it and that turned me into a musical fanatic. So this idea combines my passion for theatre and my passion for helping the homeless.

So what I am basically saying is that God has a plan for each of us. I know when darkness strikes, it makes no sense at all. But God knows what He is doing. He wants to strengthen us and lead us to the light. He loves all of us conditionally and knows the importance of compassion, love, kindness, and forgiveness. It is important to know what your God-given gifts are. One of mine is my strong spirit and that is one thing that makes me unique. He wants to give us hope even if society is broken. He keeps me going through my day and I continue to strengthen my spirituality.

 

Ironies of “I’m Not That Girl” and “As Long As Your’e Mine”

I know I already wrote at least two posts dealing with the Wicked love triangle. But now I want to talk just how ironic these two songs actually are. The ironies of these songs is what makes the Wicked love triangle my favorite.

“I’m Not That Girl” happens in the very first act, which is sung by Elphaba. It is a heartbreaking and insightful song about unrequited love and it took me quite a while to know the song is heartbreaking. I first saw Wicked in 2006 and I always knew that “I’m Not That Girl” was a sad song. Even the third viewing, which was in 2013 during the month of February, I still didn’t pick up on it. By that point, I already knew heartbreak was part of the musical world thanks to seeing the Les Mis movie the year before in December. But I didn’t actually accept or even grasp the emotion until March of 2013.

Sometime around midway in 2013 or sometime during 2014, I made a connection between “On My Own” and “I’m Not That Girl”. I knew that “On My Own” was a very strong and heartbreaking unrequited love song and realized that “I’m Not That Girl” is also about unrequited love and knew that Elphaba’s unrequited love for Fiyero was not quite as strong as Eponine’s love for Marius. But either way the two songs are unrequited love songs, which makes both heartbreaking songs.

This is the irony of “I’m Not That Girl”. In the scene previously, Elphaba just found out that she loves Fiyero. She noticed a scared lion cub in a cage during class and cast a spell on the class, which didn’t affect Fiyero. They both ran into the woods to free the cub and in that moment, she realized she loves him. It appears as if Elphaba will always have unrequited love for Fiyero and the song is moderately heartbreaking. There is actually no way of knowing how long Elphaba has been in love with Fiyero. The last time I saw Wicked, I began to wonder if Fiyero had a crush on Elphaba without even realizing it. The big fat irony comes from a plot twist in the second act.

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In the second act, the unrequited love shifts gears on you. Fiyero hears all of the rude comments about Elphaba and cannot believe Glinda is supporting all of this. He realizes that he loves Elphaba and there is no way of knowing when he fell in love with Elphaba even when there are clues in act one. So because the unrequited love shifted to Glinda, it is a bit ironic to feel heartbroken during “I’m Not That Girl”.

So after all of this mess, Fiyero goes out with Elphaba. So in “As Long As Your’e Mine”, they are officially a couple. This is something you just wouldn’t see coming. All of these plot twists make the love triangle in Wicked so difficult to interpret. Even though “I’m Not That Girl” will always make me feel heartbroken, there is still the irony in the fact that Elphaba will eventually end up with Fiyero, which leads to the irony of “As Long As Your’e Mine”.

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This love triangle adds an incredible texture and emotional value to Wicked. This is the only love triangle in the world of musicals that has major plot twists. It does seem like Elphaba will always have unrequited love for Fiyero, but that never has been the case. Her story doesn’t revolve around unrequited love at all. Due to “For Good” being more emotional than the heartbreaking and insightful “I’m Not That Girl”, it shows how much more important the friendship is in Wicked compared to the love triangle.

Wells Fargo Wagon

Hard to believe that tomorrow at my school, their performance of Little Shop of Horrors is opening. I am box office manger for Little Shop Of Horrors and that means I am in charge of seeing tickets. It is hard to believe that the last time my school did a musical was two years ago.

Two years ago, the musical that my school did was Music Man. Music Man is one of my favorite musicals. I just love how fun and light-hearted it is and it is extremely light-hearted. Music Man is one of those musicals that does not have a single source of darkness and does not even have the negative emotions in the score. As much as I prefer musicals that have negative emotions in their songs, I don’t want all musicals to have those emotions in their scores. Musicals like Music Man are there to help balance out musicals. Music Man is an incredible musical comedy with memorable songs and characters. When I saw Music Man two years ago, I already knew the songs, “Seventy Six Trombone”, “Ya Got Trouble”, “Gary, Indiana”, “Marian the Librarian”, and “Wells Fargo Wagon”. I love characters in that musical such as Harold Hill, Amaryliss (sorry if the spelling is off), Marian, and Winthrop.

Music Man was literally the best way to start the musical year of 2015. Out of all musicals I saw that year, Music Man was the most light-hearted. Out of the others, it was the only musical without any trace of darkness. Little did I know that when I saw Music Man that it would be the start of the best musical year of my life. I ended up seeing not one, but four musicals. The other three musicals of that year were Pippin, Sound of Music, and Les Mis. Even the order I saw those musicals makes perfect sense. The first two musicals, Pippin and Music Man, were the musicals with the least amount of experience. I already knew about five songs for Music Man and I know it was about some con man organizing a boy’s band and knew that it was in fact a comedy.

As in the case of Pippin, I never expected to see that musical. When mom got tickets, there was only one day left with two seats together. Pippin was the first musical of the year where darkness started to exist. I even had two understudies that night, which were for Pippin and the Leading Player. Pippin was what I would call the spectacle musical of the year. It showed a type of spectacle that I never saw in a musical before, which was circus. I remember being so fascinated by the Leading Player, who is the narrator and antagonist of Pippin. The actress played her in the opening number, “Magic to Do”, with a lot of playfulness, but I could pick up on a tad bit of evil. I love how “Magic to Do” gets you introduced to the circus elements. But during “Glory”, I could really start to tell just how dark the Leading Player is. The Leading Player is very craft and extremely manipulative and keeps on making Pippin make wrong decisions and he does not realize it until the very end of the show. Entering Pippin, I somehow knew it was a happy musical even though I only knew “Corner of the Sky” and what that song was about and also knew that the Leading Player was the antagonist.

In the case of the last two musicals, they are the musicals with the most experience. I had already experienced them in some shape or form.

Than the third musical of 2015 was the best musical of the entire year and was the biggest reason why 2015 was the best musical year  by far. I ended up seeing Les Mis in the West End, a dream I had since 2013. I am an obsessive Les Mis fan and it completly changed my view on musicals because it went above and beyond with the emotional world I once knew.

I saw such a passionate and powerful cast with Adam Bayjou as Valjean.I felt like seeing Les Mis in the West End with my mom was quite special. That was because back in 2006, mom and I saw Wicked on Broadway and things came full circle when the two of us saw Les Mis in the West End. What was interesting about seeing Wicked on Broadway and Les Mis in the West End was tied to the fact that they are my top two favorite musicals and that they are currently tied. As expected, this production had everything that Les Mis is known for. It had a large amount of emotions and the spirituality was so strong in this production. The revolve was so cool because it helped advance time and I especially loved it on the barricades.

But the last musical of that year, “Sound of Music”, was the most perfect way to end the 2015 musicals. It has been part of my life since elementary school and just like “Pippin”, I wasn’t expecting to actually see it. I had never seen this musical live before, but have seen the well-known movie. I came in knowing that the songs could possibly be in a different order or there might be some songs I never heard before. This musical has such meaning and played an important role in the musicals I grew up with. “Edelweiss”, my favorite song from the musical, was my first piano recital song. I loved this production and I was surprised at my reaction during “Edelweiss”. It was at the moment when the Captain stopped singing and there was this small window in between that moment and when the children joined them and sad decided to become a part of the song. I had never felt sad in “Edelweiss” before and it was there. Crazy how such a small amount of sadness can be so capable and strong enough to strengthen the entire musical.

The only emotions that all four musicals had to common was excitement, joy, and love. All of them only shared positive emotions. About half had those negative emotions and in one of them, I was quite surprised that I even felt it. “Pippin” had potential when it comes to the negative emotions, but the faint edge of sad showed meaning I don’t even remember if I even felt a negative emotions or not even though I felt a lot of darkness during that show. The only emotions that all musicals have in common are positive emotions, which shows that the positive musical emotions are so much stronger than the negative emotions. The positive emotions exist throughout the actual show itself and through the actual experience.